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Hawker Sea Fury

Alan Reed

Hawker Sea Fury

I was recently asked if I had ever painted aircraft. Two commissions from the 1980’s sprung to mind. One was from a friend who’s father was part of a Halifax Bomber crew during WW2. He was shot down and spent the rest of the year as a prisoner of war.

The other commission was of a Hawker Sea Fury,  the last propeller-driven fighter to serve with the Royal Navy. It was also one of the fastest production single piston-engined aircraft ever built. The painting was for a gentleman who’s father served on HMS Illustrious, the aircraft carrier from which the aircraft flew from.

These commissions were before the age of the internet, so there were very few photographs to work from that were easily accessible. In the case of the Halifax Bomber, I purchased an Airfix model, assembled it and photographed it from the angle I wanted. When it came to the finished painting I was able to add in the relevant squadron numbers to personalise the painting. My friend’s father passed away over 10 years ago but I know that he was very fond of the painting. It was proudly hung in his living room.

When it came to painting the Hawker Sea Fury I managed to find an old black and white photograph of HMS Illustrious, a number of drawings and photographs of the aircraft in various positions and some photographs of interesting cloud formations from the air. After experimenting with different compositions I decided that because the main subject was being viewed from the air, I would emphasis the airborne aspect of the Hawker Sea Fury by putting the horizon at a 45 degree angle.

Once again, I personalised the painting by giving the Hawker Sea Fury the appropriate markings. The client was delighted with his aviation painting and later commissioned another watercolour, this time a seascape depicting the Battle of Trafalgar.

If you have an idea for a painting commission then please visit our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland or website alanreed.com.

 

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Painting of the Angel

Alan Reed

Angel Sunrise

In a previous blog post I described a recent painting commission where I was asked to do an oil Painting of the Angel of the North. As part of the project I decided to do a smaller study to try out some ideas with colours and cloud shapes.

This new Painting of the Angel can now be seen at our Studio & Gallery in Ponteland. As you will see, it is quite different from the larger commission and different in style from all my other paintings. The wings are made up of 22 carat gold leaf. This can cause the painting to look quite different depending on the lighting conditions of the room, whether the room is in natural light or gentle artificial light.

Whilst doing this painting I’ve been asked several times how to paint a straight line. The answer is quite simple, I use a ruler. The find out how you can watch a short video.

On this particular Painting of the Angel I decided to add a solitary figure to provide a sense of scale and heightened drama to the scene.

Although it wasn’t deliberate on my part, these recent works of the Gateshead Angel have reminded me of the stunning painting of the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by north east painter John Martin which can be seen at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle. If you are in Newcastle and you have some spare time, the Laing Art Gallery is well worth a visit.

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Painting of the Angel

Alan Reed

The Angel of the North in Progress

Earlier this year I received a request to do an oil Painting of the Angel of the North. Although I have painted several paintings of the Angel since it was first erected in April 1998 the client had very specific ideas about the size, colours and view point which were completely different from my other paintings of the Angel.

All my previous works of the Angel had been in watercolour so I was excited about tackling it in oils. I suggested to the client that the painting could have more visual impact with some gold leaf on the wings. Over the years I’ve painted a number of different subjects using gold leaf and the effects can be pretty amazing. A more recent example is the scene below of Buckingham Palace from Green Park.

Oil Painting by Alan Reed

Original Fine Art Painting of Buckingham Palace from Green Park painted in oils on Gold Leaf.

I made several trips to see the Angel to get fresh reference and to remind myself just how iconic the Angel has become.

I’m always observing interesting skies and whenever possible I’ll either paint them on the spot or photograph them. In the case of sunrises and sunsets, they are more challenging to paint on location because the colours change so quickly. I searched through my library of photos and found a suitable sky for inspiration.

Alan Reed

Sunset Sky

Producing a Painting of the Angel with gold leaf involved some experimentation with the base colour of the wings so that the gold leaf had maximum impact. I decided that using the same red as the sky would work best. It would provide the right visual connection between the sky and the Angel.

Adding gold leaf demands patience and care but it’s very satisfying when you see the finished result. It’s even more satisfying when the client sees the painting for the first time and loves it!

I’ve had the Painting of the Angel hanging in our kitchen for the last few days. It’s great to see the effects of gold leaf at various times of the day under different lighting conditions. It’s a painting which is quite different from anything else I’ve painted.

I’ve now published this painting of the Angel as a  limited edition giclee print, available on paper and also hand embellished with gold leaf.

A smaller oil painting of the Angel from a different angle is now complete and is available to view at our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

Alan Reed

Painting of the Angel

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Painting Commissions

Alan Reed

Warehouse

One of the most interesting painting commissions I’ve worked on in 2016 has been for the Lakes Distillery. The Lakes Distillery opened in 2104 and is already winning awards for its Whiskey, Gin and Vodka. It is housed in a Victorian Cattle Farm with hand made copper stills, set in the stunning scenery of the Lake District.

When I was given a tour around the distillery to get painting ideas, the first thing that really struck me was just how beautifully thought out everything is about the Lakes Distillery, from the branding through to the actual buildings themselves. It really is a credit to everyone who has been involved with this project.

The first subject which demanded to be painted was the warehouse containing dozens of barrels of maturing whiskey. The distillery manager John Drake took me around and we decided that a painting with him testing the progress of one of the whiskeys would make an interesting painting.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of the Warehouse

My initial study was an A5 watercolour painted in my home made leather bound sketchbook. When painting on location, I tend to draw with the brush, rarely using a pencil. Working in this manner produces brush marks which are very direct and expressive. Photography is also an aid to make sure everything is drawn out accurately when it comes to the finished studio painting.

I always aim to retain the fluency and freedom of the sketchbook studies when it comes to working in the Studio otherwise the painting can loose its freshness and spontaneity.

Two paintings were commissioned. The second one of the copper stills was again inspired by a sketchbook watercolour. I’ll be writing about this one in another blog post.

Paul Currie, the Lakes Distillery founder and his team were delighted with their two painting commissions which have been reproduced as limited edition prints to present to their Founder Club Members.

I really recommend a visit to the Lakes Distillery if you are in the area. The setting is stunning and their restaurant is first class.

 

 

 

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Roman Forum

Alan Reed

Roman Forum, First Light

For over a year now I have been working on a number of painting commissions for an overseas client who has a passion for Roman history and paintings depicting Roman architecture. To paint these subjects with the kind of insight and integrity that they deserve, I make sure that I gather sufficient original reference by going on location to the exact places that have been requested.

Considerable time is spent surveying the subject from different angles and at different times of day to get the best composition and lighting. For this particular view of the Roman Forum I awoke when it was still dark and walked briskly from our hotel room along the deserted streets of Rome to capture the first rays of sunlight striking the ancient columns of the Temple of Saturn. I have to say, if you are visiting any busy city, it’s well worth the effort to get up early before the rest of the tourists take to the streets.

I wasted no time in whipping out my leather bound sketchbook to do a rapid watercolour study to get a feeling of the mood, light and general atmosphere of the Roman Forum.

Alan Reed

Painting on location in Rome

After taking several photographs from my first view point of the Roman Forum, I then made my way to another vantage point to tackle another possible painting. By then however, the sun had risen considerably higher so the lighting was not as interesting. I decided to return again the following morning. Fortunately I’m used to getting up early, so another visit was very much a pleasure than a chore. In the end, it was the second painting which the client was delighted with and which has been added to his growing collection of Alan Reed original paintings.

I’m pleased to say that my original painting of the Roman Forum titled First Light has been published as a limited edition print available online and from my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, Northumberland. The original watercolour is also currently on view as well.

 

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Colosseum Painting

Alan Reed

Colosseum, Rome

One of the many thrills of being a full time artist is receiving commissions to paint subjects which you find stimulating and exciting. Over the last 12 months I’ve received a number of commissions to paint some of the architecture built by the Romans.

Because of my training at art college in architecture, I really enjoy the whole process of gathering reference material on location through watercolour sketchbook studies of the ancient architecture and photography. Pulling all the material together in my studio to create a finished watercolour is a rewarding task, particularly when I know how much the client really appreciates the final outcome.

The most recent commission is a painting of the Colosseum in Rome. I’ve painted the Colosseum on a number of occasions at different times of day and various angles. This particular view of the Colosseum is taken from the Roman Forum when I spent an afternoon sketching around the various ruins.

Alan Reed

Roman Forum, Dawn

I also rose before dawn to capture the sun rising over the remains of the temples as you can see in the watercolour sketch above.

Other commissions of Rome have included the Arch of Titus and Parco degli Acquedotti and the Roman Forum.

To find out more about commissioning a painting, please visit my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland for an informal chat or watch the Commissions Video on my website.

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Parco degli Acquedotti

Alan Reed Watercolour

Parco degli Acquedotti

Over the last few months I’ve been working on a number of painting commissions of Rome for an overseas client. You can read a testimonial on a previous blog post about one of the paintings I did for him of the Arch of Titus.

This has involved me travelling to Rome for short visits to gather suitable reference. The last trip in October saw me take a metro ride from the centre of Rome to Parco degli Acquedotti which boasts some fine remains of the magnificent aqueducts built by Emperors Claudius and Hadrian.

It was late afternoon so I worked rapidly on a couple of “en plein air” watercolours looking directly into the autumn sunlight capturing the main section. Although the longest stretch of the section by Claudius is the most impressive, I was also struck by the fragmented parts which stood alone in a field, creating some rather beautiful shapes, almost like letters of the alphabet.

I couldn’t resist painting a 21″ x 14″ studio watercolour on hand made Fabriano paper of Parco degli Acquedotti in the soft, warm autumnal light which can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Commission a Portrait

Alan Reed

Portrait of Arthur

On our Painting Holiday in Italy in May 2015, one of the guests asked me to paint a portrait of her husband Arthur for his birthday present in August. It was to be a surprise so she asked if I could work from photographs. I said that I could, but if possible I would prefer to try and do a sketch of him and take my own photographs.

I devised a cunning plan. On the last evening of the holiday, I began to sketch various guests in my Moleskine Sketchbook after dinner as we were all relaxing in the living room of Chiesa del Carmine.

Eventually it was Arthur’s turn and he willingly obliged to sit without suspecting that my humble charcoal sketch would develop into a 20″ x 16″ portrait in oils!

I took inspiration from the new John Singer Sargent Book “Portraits of Artists and Friends” which accompanied the stunning exhibition of Sargent’s Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London earlier this year. In the excellent book are some very fresh, informal portraits of Sargent’s artist friends, singers and writers. I tried to keep Arthur’s portrait very simple and relaxed and was thrilled to receive this lovely testimonial from Arthur himself just after he received his present.

“We came home last night from Portugal, where we had been celebrating my birthday on Tuesday with the children and grandchildren. Now, I am the ever so proud and thrilled owner of the most marvellous portrait of me. I have felt both ecstatic and overwhelmed. Diana had erected it suitably on her easel.

When she called me up to see my present from her, and I saw my portrait, (actually I was wearing the same jumper), I just started shaking with excitement. Unusually for me, I was struck dumb, and did not know what to say.

Now a little recovered, I can tell you directly how thrilled I am. It seems a bit self centered to say so, but I think it captures the very essence of me. Just perfect. Thank you so much for taking so much effort to capture the very being of me. I am thrilled.

Please give my very best wishes to Sue, too. We both enjoyed both our original Easter visit to your home, and our wonderful week with you in the summer, and hence we are both equally looking forward to next year.

You cannot imagine how happy you have made my celebration week, for my larger birthday number than I really like to think about.

With all very best wishes”.

Arthur

If you would like to discuss having a portrait painted of a family member or friend, please visit my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland without any obligation or watch the Commissions video on my website to find out more.

Some of the links on this post are affiliate links including the book “Sargent, Portraits of Artists and Friends” available from Amazon. If you click on the links and buy the books then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

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Commission a Portrait

Alan Reed

CastleGate Portraits Painted in oils

On the 9th September 2015 a project was finally unveiled which I had been working on for two years. The artwork depicts a selection of portraits of people who are either past, present or future members of City Church Newcastle which Susan and I have been a part of since 1993. The portraits are hanging in the atrium of the CastleGate building which we bought as a church in the late nineties and is to reflect the vision of the church.

Most of the portraits have been painted from life over several sittings at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland. Typically, each sitting would last a couple of hours which has been a mutually enjoyable experience for both myself and the sitter.

Part of painting someones portrait is not just capturing a good likeness but also about bringing out something of the persons personality and character. That comes from spending time in conversation with the sitter, getting to know them and bringing out an expression or “look” that is typically them.

I find that over the course of a two hour sitting, the light will often change casting either a shadow over part of the face or a highlight on another part which, when painted, really helps to describe something about that person. This has always been my aim since investing a huge amount of time in studying portraiture over the last four years. It’s not just about developing a good, sound painting technique in oils but producing a piece of art which people can really connect with, whether they know the person or not. I find that when I’m studying John Singer Sargent’s portraits, I’m really captivated, not just by the painting but the subject too. I somehow feel as though I’d like to meet them.

Alan Reed

Atrium of the CastleGate

If you would like to Commission a Portrait then why not visit the CastleGate on Melbourne Street, Newcastle to take a closer look at the 24 portraits which have been painted in oils on aluminium panels.

To find out more about the process of commissioning a portrait you can also visit my website or Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

 

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Great Review from a Client

Watercolour of the Arch of Titus

Arch of Titus, Rome

 

I’ve been working on a number of painting commissions of Rome for a new client. Last week I sent out one of the paintings so I was very pleased to receive the following review today for the original watercolour of “The Arch of Titus”.

This particular painting is based on a sketchbook study painted on location and a number of photographs. I felt that it was important to take care in capturing the Latin inscription and the scene under the arch itself that shows the spoils of Jerusalem. However, it was also important to retain the spontaneity of the sketchbook study too.

“Dear Alan,
I fear singing your praises as you may decide to raise your price for future work.
But worthy praise should be given heartily and your work is spectacular – worthy of the Emperor himself!
Thank you.
I look forward to the forum and other works.
Enjoy the weekend.”

Sylvano

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